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Kenneth W. Keller: Tools to help refresh your business

Inside Business

Posted: March 11, 2009 1:08 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Data suggests that recessions are becoming shorter but economic uncertainty and distress is affecting many organizations.

The concept of doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is a business definition of insanity. Now is as good as time as any to review, renew and refresh the basic building blocks of your business.

At a minimum, you will have invested time to reaffirm what you are trying to do as an owner. On the other hand, using the tools defined below you may surface ideas and gain new perspective that will allow you to move forward with energy and purpose that might have been lacking before.

The first tool is to review your organization's current mission statement or create one if it does not currently exist. A mission statement is a short sentence that simply states why the organization exists.

It never hurts to reflect on something as simple, yet profound as a mission statement. But without purpose, without direction, organizations stagnate and often get off track.

If you are seeking alignment and focus, it is time to renew the thinking behind your mission statement.

The second tool is a careful analysis of the organization's values. A value is simply "what is valuable" to the organization. This may mean cash, or profits, but often what we truly mean are intangible things such as trust, reliability, and follow through for clients and vendors.

Yet, stated values are often far different than what takes place in the real world of day to day activity so taking the time to thoughtfully consider values is critical. Many organizations veer off course because they do not have clear values to use as rudders in determining good courses of action.

The third tool is a vision statement. This is a short document that describes for all to see "what we aspire to."

Too many organizations lack clear goals, from the top down. Goals are "measures of success." The fourth tool is to define the goals. What is success in your business? It is a simple question yet many organizations have not and cannot define it; those that can usually come out ahead.

The fifth tool is to develop key strategies. Put another way, how "we intend to win." A strategy is nothing more than an idea to help the company win. Some of these are good, some not so good but ideas, especially now, are critical.

Make note that owners do not have a monopoly on great ideas. Being in a leadership position and having more information than others gives perspective but handicaps the company as a whole in the search for strategies.

The sixth tool is the action plan which addresses "who is going to do what and when?" This is where most organizations fail.

We all know organizations that succeed in spite of themselves. Imagine how much more successful these companies would be if they actually had action plans that were created, executed and monitored for feedback and correction.

If ideas are truly a dime a dozen, a solid action plan is worth thousands of dollars, yet this management tool is often ignored, forgotten about or misused.

The seventh tool is to create a scorecard. This exists to measure how the organization is doing, what the "score is" to measure the success of the other tools.

This tool can be a simple word document, a spreadsheet or even words or numbers on a white board.

As an owner of a business, you have two very distinct choices today and everyday. The first is to "ride out the storm." The second is to "create and execute a plan to win." You now have seven tools to use should you choose the second option.

Kenneth Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums, which brings business owners together in facilitated peer advisory boards. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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